See a Whole New—and Endangered—World

From coral reefs to the Arctic Ocean, dive deep into unknown territories with National Geographic photographers visiting Houston.

By Kyndall Krist January 9, 2017

Houston's gone wild thanks to National Geographic Live! as they present Coral Kingdoms & Empires of Ice this Tuesday at the Houston Symphony's lecture series. Husband and wife team David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes will give attendees a tour of their diving adventures with outstanding photographs taken for National Geographic, as well as share their passions for the environment, ocean and photography.

The duo traveled to Canada's Saint Lawrence River and Gulf of Saint Lawrence, where they came face-to-face with sharks, seahorses and harp seals, the latter of which David describes as “the most beautiful creature in the world.” But unfortunately, like polar bears, harp seals are struggling to survive with warming oceans and melting ice.

“If there is an animal that represents how this planet is changing, it's the harp seal,” explains David. Harp seals are born on open sea ice and require large, solid pieces of ice to survive through weening, which is problematic as that habitat becomes progressively scarcer.

David and Jennifer will share other amazing experiences with animals and organisms that continue to be in serious danger if environmental concerns are not addressed, like the coral reefs they photograph and love. “We are documenting times and places that are going to disappear unless we begin to turn around the way we live on this planet,” says David.

Art lovers and National Geographic readers alike often only see the final products—in this case, stunning photographs—but the journey to get those images is just as intriguing and important.

“Our talk is also a behind-the-scenes look at how difficult these assignments are—and how frustrating and joyous they can be,” explains David. “For every single rainbow, there’s a lot of rain. But when you finally get something in the work that captures the poetry of a place, it’s one of the greatest experiences."

The big takeaway of Tuesday's lecture is the power of pictures. “They have the power to illuminate and the power to humiliate. They certainly have the power to celebrate. They also have the power to convince the unconvinced," says David. "What Jennifer and I hope desperately is that they open people’s eyes to the oceans, which are what our planet is all about.”

About the photographers:

David Doubilet, who has worked with National Geographic since 1969, is conceivably the most-published photographer in the magazine's history. David jokes that he’s been with the publication for so long that his first assignment was “dinosaurs—real dinosaurs!” He further developed the iconic split-lens system, which allows him to take photographs both above and below water simultaneously.

Jennifer Hayes is an accomplished aquatic biologist and photojournalist, as well as an editor and author of several articles on marine environments and co-author and photographer for Face to Face with Sharks by National Geographic Books. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, People and Sport Diver, among others.

Coral Kingdoms & Empires of Ice 

Jan 10 at 7:30 p.m. From $20. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana St. 713-224-7575. houstonsymphony.com

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